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Interview

“Revolutionizing UAV Technology: An Exclusive Interview with ideaForge on Vertical Integration and Indigenous UAV Innovation”

In the rapidly evolving landscape of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), ideaForge Technology Ltd stands as a trailblazing force, and at the forefront of this remarkable journey is Mr. Rahul Singh. As the Promoter, VP – Engineering, and Whole Time Director of ideaForge, Mr. Singh embodies the spirit of innovation and technological excellence that the company represents. Holding a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, his journey from there to becoming a driving force in the UAV industry is nothing short of inspirational.

Recognized for his outstanding contributions, Mr. Singh was honored with the Young Alumnus Achiever Award by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 2020. His deep-rooted association with ideaForge since its inception showcases his unwavering commitment to the company’s mission. With extensive experience in the drone business, Mr. Singh has been pivotal in guiding the company’s growth trajectory and has been entrusted with the responsibility of steering innovation and shaping the product and technology roadmap.

In this exclusive interview, we delve into the visionary mind of Mr. Rahul Singh, gaining insights into his remarkable journey, his perspective on the UAV industry, and how ideaForge’s vertical integration and indigenous innovation have propelled the company to the forefront of UAV technology. Join us as we uncover the essence of his leadership, his thoughts on innovation, and his invaluable contributions to shaping the future of UAVs.

 

Tell us about your IPO. How did it occur to you and your co-founders to start a journey on aerial robotics?

The IPO offers ideaForge’s shares in the range of Rs 638-672 apiece and is planning to raise Rs 567 crore.
About 75% of the net offer is reserved for the QIB portion, 15% for non-institutional investors, and 10% is
set aside for retail investors. The IPO comprises a fresh issue of equity shares of up to Rs 240 crore and
an offer for sale (OFS) of up to 48.6 lakh shares by selling shareholders. The proceeds from its fresh
issuance to the tune of Rs 50 crore will be utilised for repayment of certain indebtedness availed by the
company, Rs 135 crore towards funding working capital requirements, Rs 40 crore for investment in
product development and remaining for general corporate purposes.

Our journey on aerial robotics:
The founding team launched the company back in 2007 after we all graduated from IIT-B. However, in
2004 we built and flew one of the first quadrotor drones in India for a competition at IIT-B. And five years
after this, in 2009, ideaForge launched NETRA UAV, India’s first quadcopter drone, at DEFEXPO.
Back in those days, there was a prevailing excitement surrounding software development. However, the
founding team of ideaForge had a distinct focus on hardware. We possessed a strong desire to create
and build something tangible, and we were privileged enough to receive funding from IIT Bombay to
pursue our dreams. As we delved into various projects during our college exploration, one idea that
intrigued us was constructing a hovercraft out of the engines that people would want to scavenge from
the old, discarded bikes. Ankit Mehta, CEO of ideaForge, happened to head an innovation cell at IIT
Bombay, which offered funding for innovative ideas. Nonetheless, we realised that patenting a hovercraft
concept might not be immediately feasible. This prompted us to seek a patentable idea, eventually
leading us to conceptualise a quadrotor that was mechanically simpler and intrinsically stable in terms of
control management.
And that’s when, in 2004, we decided to build our first prototype. Subsequently, we collaborated with IIT
Bombay’s aerospace department to develop avionics and electronics for various radio-controlled aircraft
and, eventually, drones. The team even participated in a competition alongside MIT US, securing a
prominent position.  However, in 2008, when the devastating Mumbai attacks occurred, we resolved to harness this technology and create a product that could assist our armed forces during such crises. And in 2009, we launched India’s first fully autonomous drone technology, which is used for homeland security, defence, and civil purposes.

Give us a sense of what kind of drones you have manufactured.
ideaForge has one of the industry’s leading product portfolios targeted at civil and defence applications
(dual use). It has a broad range of products with feature-based differentiation such as weight class
(approximately 2-7 kg), endurance class (25-120 minutes flying time), take-off altitude range (up to 6,000
metres), communication range (approximately 2-15 km), payload types, etc. Beyond the UAVs, the
company also undertakes a full integration of payloads, communication system and packaging. Our UAVs
are easily portable as the packaging is designed in such a way that all the components can be carried as
a backpack.
Our product portfolio includes surveillance and mapping UAVs such as SWITCH, Q4i, NETRA V4+, NETRA
V4 PRO, NINJA, RYNO, and Q6 UAV, as well as Ground Control Station Software that controls and
manages our UAVs and autopilot sub-system, and solutions that enable industry/application specific
software that increases the value of our UAVs to the end customer. Our diverse product offering provides
us with the necessary flexibility to meet the changing needs of diverse customers across industries.
Our drones are used for various applications such as, border surveillance, anti-terror operations, coastal
security and surveillance, crime and traffic control, forest and wildlife, disaster management, mapping,
surveying, construction and real estate, agriculture and many more.

How are you able to leverage technology to build your business
ideaForge is a vertically integrated company with an in-house product development centre, allowing us to
design, develop, engineer, and manufacture indigenous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The company
designs, develops, engineers, and manufactures UAVs in-house, with a focus on performance, reliability,
and autonomy.
The endeavours of research and development at ideaForge has helped to indigenously develop the
Quadcopter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and Fixed-wing VTOL UAV. A plethora of novel technology
fields are also being investigated and executed for enhanced product specifications and designs. We
consistently focused on creating compact and cost-optimized systems that encapsulates an array of
cutting-edge technical standards.
Our UAVs are equipped with industry leading specifications and capabilities, comparable to those of other
established global players in the UAV industry. Our in-house design, development, engineering, and
manufacturing capabilities have enabled us to develop better products in response to changing customer
demands, thereby improving customer experience with our products. Our UAV platforms are designed
with a mission first; approach, which means they are designed to deliver UAVs that meet our customer’s
needs, can sustain a large number of flights reliably, and can be operated autonomously without the need
for special skills or training.
We are one of the few original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with its own proprietary autopilot
subsystem and ground control software in the world. The company has over 25 patents as a result of its
ongoing product development and innovation efforts. ideaForge Technology doesn’t have a technical
technology dependence on any other company either in India or outside India.

Another key factor is that we are vertically integrated in the technology, which means that the raw
materials we buy for the same technology are purchased at the component level rather than the sub-
system level. Then, by adding our technological layer on top, we are able to essentially build a
differentiated service while experiencing growth.

ideaForge has significant achievements in critical technologies in house and is NDAA SEC848 compliant
and has significantly filled the vacuum of increased demand created by the need of Chinese drones in the
market. It has successfully manoeuvred through the global shortage of semiconductor market with its
agility by exploring alternative technology.

What are your thoughts on aerial robotics’ future in this country? Say in the coming decade,
what kind of growth & adoption do you see.
Looking ahead to the coming decade, it is reasonable to anticipate substantial growth and adoption of
aerial robotics in several areas. Aerial robotics will likely see increased adoption in commercial sectors
such as logistics and e-commerce. Delivery drones have already demonstrated their potential for efficient
last-mile deliveries. As regulations evolve, we may see further integration of drones into supply chains
and transportation networks.
Aerial robotics can offer significant advantages in inspecting infrastructure such as bridges, pipelines,
power lines, and buildings. Drones are becoming the must have technology in Agriculture and
Environmental Monitoring, Public Safety and Emergency Response, Defence and many more sectors. In
the coming decade, we will see its inseparable use and advanced applications.
However, the growth and adoption of aerial robotics will depend on several factors, including regulatory
frameworks, public acceptance, technological advancements, and addressing safety and privacy
concerns. Striking the right balance between innovation and regulation will be crucial to ensure the safe
and responsible use of aerial robotics.

Overall, the potential for growth and adoption of aerial robotics in the coming decade is promising.
Continued advancements in technology, supportive regulatory environments, and expanding use cases
are likely to drive increased utilisation of aerial robotics across a wide range of industries and sectors.

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2 comments

sitemap.xml November 30, 2023 at 6:27 am

Veryy rapidly thos sitge will bee fanous amoong alll blogging
and site-building visitors, ddue tto it’s fastidious posts

Reply
BmbMWvkR February 27, 2024 at 6:30 pm

uZpYRNKjLtd

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